Rinaldo Villanova’s Guide to Character Generation
This Guide is intended to assist players with working on their characters for Southern Cross. While I will be discussing our particular MUCK in specific, this guide could easily be used with any RPG system in general.
The first step to making a character is always the concept. It is very important to have something in mind, rather than simply making a generic character type. The concept, to begin with, should be a statement about what the character is. Two or three words are usually a good way to get into the feel of a character at this point.
Once you have the concept of the character, it is good to begin deciding on the character’s background. What do you see as the character’s education and upbringing? Where are they in society now? What do they do for a living? This all should be a part of the concept, or the character will seem incomplete later.
Now that you have your concept, it is time to look at the character class. While it is easy to see specific patterns (a swordsman as a fighter, a member of the church as a priest), it does not need to be that simple. For example, a member of the church doesn’t have to be a priest. Instead, think of a swordsman who is pious and touched with faith? (Priest), or maybe a mage who specializes in finding lost artifacts in ruins or who gets a thrill from robbing others (Rogue). Classes are not entirely black and white, and it is quite possible, through a combination of life paths, mentoring, and roleplaying to blend a concept with a class most might not have considered.
At this point, we determine the attributes for a character. Attributes range from 1 (pitiful) to 12 (average), to 25 (maximum). A character with an attribute from 1 to 5 is considered crippled in that area. A character with an attribute of 20 or more is considered incredible, a prodigy within that attribute.
Choosing a character’s attributes will have an impact on the character for the rest of their existence. The reason for this is that the player is fully allowed to set their attributes at any level they want - at the cost of their experience points later. The higher the total in attributes a character has, the slower the character gains experience points.
It may seem easy to just take high attributes in the fields you want your character good at, and low attributes elsewhere. This is not necessary, and can hurt the character a lot in the future. Instead, look at the character as a person, and assign attributes realistically. Just because a character is good with the sword does not mean the character needs an incredibly high Dexterity. Just because the character is a mage does not mean the character must have an ultra powerful Magery and Willpower. Instead, look at the character overall, in a variety of situations that do not necessarily have to deal with the character’s chosen profession. Can the swordsman juggle? Perform acrobatics? If they are not proficient all around, then perhaps having a lower Dexterity is in order.
If you are realistic in assigning your character’s attributes, this means that the character will gain experience faster. Gaining experience is essential to increasing the character’s Skills and Specials, so don’t be greedy when it comes to your character’s attributes. What the character lacks in 3-5 points in any given attribute can be made up for elsewhere by choosing the proper Skills.
This is a troublesome situation with a lot of characters. It is too easy to simply take the skills that are required for the character’s Class, and then rocket up through the Jobs until the character is Tier 4 or even 5. From a realistic perspective, what this means is you have a ‘veteran’ character with absolutely no depth or background. The character is, essentially, hollow.
Remember, your character is new. That means that they are at the start of their career. While it might be nice to be the veteran of a thousand wars, or the arch-mage, realistically you do not have the Experience Points to make such a character. You will wind up with only a very small handful of skills and Specials, but nothing to truly back up the character’s claims.
Some players hide their characters, Rping in small groups to compensate for this until they think their characters have gathered enough Experience Points to add muscle to their mouths. If they want to do this, why the hell are they playing on a public MUCK?
Your character was not born and raised in a vacuum. There are thousands of little experiences in life that should be seen in the character’s skills. The character’s hobbies and interests growing up, the education that a teacher would provide, and other events that would cause a character to pick up other skills and talents should all be purchased at this point.
A glaring example that comes to mind is someone making a house-servant... without the servant character having any skills to support their job. This doesn’t make sense, does it?
So, while it may slow down a character’s climb through the Job Tiers, it makes sense to waste Experience Points here, fleshing out the character and adding depth. Find out the character’s hobbies, interests, and education, and purchase the skills to match.
Remember how I mentioned that you can use a Concept and a Class that may not make sense at first glance? This is where you back this up. Not every Special has to be appropriate to your character Class. You may find some restrictions that hinder what you have in mind, but there are other things a character can pick up that will help flesh out your Concept. Don’t try to sky-rocket up in one or two specific Specials, look at a few of the other ones that would make sense, and try to think of how these Specials look and feel when your character uses them. Make them unique, and perhaps add some flare to the character.
Right on the back of Specials is the lifepath. This sets aside some of the Experience Points your character gains, and puts them into your character’s ‘career choice’. This is essential for fleshing out your character’s Concept and Class, making them work together for you. A proper lifepath adds depth to the character, filling in the rough edges and making everything blend nicely.
Once you have done this part of your character, you should have a good idea of who your character is, what they have done in the past, and what their interests are. This should have helped you work towards the final thing you need to do before you can roleplay – make the character’s history and background. If you took your time at each step of character generation, you should have a solid idea of what history your character has.